I often have mixed feelings about the healthy living blogging community. I’ve come across some relatable and encouraging posts, I’ve shaken my head in disgust at certain images or quotes on Instagram, and I’ve even read a few blogs where I’ve developed a concern for the author’s health (based only on what I’ve read, of course). It got me thinking about my own health, eating habits, fitness journey, self-perception, and reasons for reading and blogging. But, more importantly, it got me thinking about others—about the prevalence of eating and exercise disorders within this community, the misconception that it’s “normal” to run monthly half marathons and exercise 6-7 times a week, and the assumption that desserts must be transformed into sugar-flour-oil-dairy-EVERYTHING-free replicas of themselves.
In light of it being National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, I wanted to write a letter to YOU, the young (and not-so-young) women who read healthy living blogs.
Dear HLB reader,
Hi, how are you? No, really, how do you feel today? Are you anxious? Are you feeling like you’re not good enough, athletic enough, or, God-forbid, skinny enough?
I know you probably won’t believe me when I tell you this (after all, I have a feeling you’re a lot like me: stubborn, occasionally insecure, and held to impossibly high, self-imposed standards) but you are ENOUGH.
You are beautiful. You are witty. You are capable of doing great things. You are unique and here on this planet for a purpose. You are more than your body or the calories you consume or the miles that you run.
That bikini-clad body builder you follow on Instagram? Yes, her transformation is incredible, but you don’t have to look just like her to be happy.
You don’t know the sacrifices she made to get there. The amount of spray-tan covering her body, the birthday celebrations she missed to avoid going off her diet, or the arguments she had with her significant other because her free time was no longer shared.
And what about that new mother—the one who has it all. The smiling and cooing should-be-a-Gerber-baby, the spotless home, the effortlessly flat postpartum tummy, and the endless time to work out, make flashy Pinterest creations, and fly across the country at the drop of the hat?
Now, I know we all have different experiences—and I can’t put myself in this woman’s place—but I guarantee her days are not always perfect.
Motherhood can be a lonely place. Postpartum depression (or anxiety) creeps in when you least expect it. Leaving your baby with a new caretaker and returning to work—or stepping away from your dream career to stay at home for the first time—is demanding and can deplete you of your identity.
Buying new, larger clothes can cut deeply when you’re still figuring out how to take on your new role and embrace your various curves, scars, and battle wounds.
And let’s not forget the food blogger with the immaculately plated food.
Her talent is abundant, but are her creations truly driven by passion or by a dangerous obsession of preparing decadent foods she’ll never actually eat?
You may envy the quality of her What I Ate Wednesday photos—but what you don’t know just how intensely food rules her life.
These are hypothetical examples, but I want you to know this: social media is only a window into a person’s life. It is a highlight reel, doctored up with filters and enhancements, which is why you should never fall into the comparison trap.
You don’t need to emulate these women to be happy!
But maybe this isn’t you at all—maybe you find inspiration and encouragement from the women on your feed.
I know I am often inspired by some of the stories I’ve read. Accounts of pushing just a little harder to reach a goal, overcoming disordered behavior or addiction, landing a dream job, or just making somebody laugh!
So, various women who read healthy living blogs, I ask you: why are you here? Are you seeking community or are you discouraged and trapped in an unhealthy place?
If certain blogs or accounts are triggering to you—and if you find that you’re eating far too little, exercising far too much, or isolating yourself from your family and friends, then maybe you’re here for the wrong reasons.
Enough with the “fitspo” and the calorie counting and the comparison. You are special, and your life is much more than a screenshot. If this place makes you struggle, doubt your abilities, or fall into bad habits, please reach out to somebody and take care of yourself.
All the best to you… <3
No questions today—just your thoughts.